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University of Guelph marks 1 year since Iran plane crash that killed 2 students

Click to play video: 'Iran plane crash: Saba and Sara Saadat, Shekoufeh Choupannejad remembered as kind and generous family' Iran plane crash: Saba and Sara Saadat, Shekoufeh Choupannejad remembered as kind and generous family
On the first anniversary of the Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 crash in Iran, Daniel Ghods speaks about his girlfriend Saba Saadat, her sister Sara and their mother Shekoufeh Choupannejad, who all died in the Jan. 8, 2020 tragedy – Jan 6, 2021

The University of Guelph is marking one year since the downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 that killed two of its students.

Milad Ghasemi Ariani and Ghanimat Azhdari were returning to Canada after visiting family in Iran when their plane was shot out of the sky outside of Tehran by the Iranian army.

Read more: Families of victims of Iran plane crash struggle with loss 1 year later

Ariani was a PhD student in the department of marketing and consumer studies, part of the Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics, while Azhdari was a PhD student in the department of geography, environment and geomatics.

“We as a university community continue to grieve the tragic loss of Ghanimat and Milad,” said U of G president Charlotte Yates.

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“They were respected and admired among their peers, and driven by a profound love of learning and a strong desire to improve life in our world.”

All 176 passengers on board the Ukraine passenger jet died in the crash on Jan. 8, 2020. There were 138 people on board with ties to Canada.

In March 2020, the University of Guelph announced it would create scholarships to honour them. The school said this week that the inaugural recipients will be announced this year.

Read more: Canada rejects Tehran’s offer to compensate victims of Iran plane crash

Both awards were created in consultation with the students’ families and each will offer $5,000 to qualified graduate students for the next five years.

“These two scholarships will honour them and their love of education by supporting other international graduate students who choose to attend U of G,” Yates said.

The Ghanimat Azhdari Memorial Scholarship is open to entering international graduate students studying issues related to Indigenous communities and populations.

The Milad Ghasemi Ariani Memorial Scholarship is open to international students entering any graduate program, with preference to graduate students in the department of marketing and consumer studies.

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Iran plane crash: Husband of victim Elnaz Nabiyi says he lost his ‘everything’ – Jan 6, 2021

The Ontario government also created scholarships for undergraduates in honour of the scholars who died.

The University of Guelph selected two international students in fall 2020: Abhinav Chatterjee and Arshia Nazem.

“It is such an honour to be presented with this prestigious award to honour the lives of Milad Ghasemi Ariani and Ghanimat Azhdari, who died in the tragic accident,” Chatterjee, a fifth-year water resources engineering co-op student, said in a statement.

He said the scholarship will help him offset tuition costs, allow him to provide for his family and enable him to graduate.

Read more: University of Alberta reeling and rebuilding one year after Iran plane crash

Nazem is an aspiring veterinarian majoring in biomedical sciences and said the award will also help his family and relieve his financial burden.

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“It is our duty to remember their legacy, keep their memory alive and honour them. I extend my sincerest condolences to their families. I hope no one has to go through this pain ever again,” he said.

A virtual event will be hosted on Friday by the Association of Families of Flight PS752 Victims.

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